message of note


Rev. John Lancvaster

My elder brother Lewis, unlike the elder brother in the parable, actually sought and led me, as a child of eight, home to my heavenly Father. For that, and his loving encouragement through the many years of his quiet, godly life, I am profoundly grateful.

As a young boy, Lew had a Saturday job in the home of a well-known local artist called Flora Twort. Miss Twort, who had a number of her fine water-colours displayed in the Royal Academy, lived in a lovely old house near the market square in Petersfield in Hampshire and was hostess to a wide circle of literary and artistic guests, among them Neville Shute, famous for his book ‘A Town Like Alice‘.

It was during one of Shute’s visits that my brother was invited to stay to tea. Mindful of parental warnings about ‘proper’ behaviour, Lew put a very small portion of strawberries and cream on his scone; but pointing at it the famous author said, “What’s that, boy?”

“My tea, sir,” came the timid reply, whereupon Shute took the plate, loaded mountains of cream and strawberries on to it and gave it back to him, saying, “There you are, boy, that’s a proper tea! ” Psalm 68:l9 which rejoices because God ‘daily loads us with benefits‘, and that in turn reminded me of the story of Jacob in his ‘comfort zone‘ in —Hebron (Genesis 45: l 8-28). l-le had lived in Hebron for many years, it was a place of memories and retirement after the wanderings o fhis earlier life, so that the prospect of uprooting and undertaking a journey to an unknown land, even with the prospect of seeing his beloved Joseph again, was too much ~ until he saw the convoy of 2O loaded donkey carts Joseph had sent. Then ‘his spirit revived‘! I smile when l read that. The old entrepreneurial Jacob comes to life again when he sees the possibilities those carts present. They speak of Joseph’s desire to bless him and become the spur to fresh endeavours even in his old age.

Psalm 103: l -5 spells out the benefits which God daily loads on us and follows on in the succeeding verses to exult in the unfailing mercies he lavishes upon those who trust in him. Lamentations 3:22-26, surprisingly, breaks out in praise for the ‘new every morning‘ mercies of God; John l:l6 reminds us that out of Christ’s fullness we receive ‘grace upon grace’ or ‘one blessing after another‘ – a convoy of divine container ships unloading fresh supplies of grace day after day onto the quays of our personal lives. Meanwhile, Colossians 1:19 and 2:9-IO assure us that such ‘fullness‘ makes us complete in him because it is ‘the fullness of the Godhead‘, the limitless resources of the omnipotent ‘Lord of all being, throned afar‘.

Why, then, do so many Christians live only just above the spiritual poverty-line, and many below it? In many cases because they do not seem aware of the resources available to them in Christ, but also because many of them prefer to stay in their spiritual ‘Hebron’, nursing their fond memories of the past and content to live unadventurous lives in a comfort zone of minimum spirituality — minimum prayer and reading of the Word, minimum giving, minimum involvement in their local church, minimum commitment to the claims of the kingdom in personal life and witness.

And all the while the ‘container ships‘ of God’s blessings lie at anchor out in the bay waiting for the dock gates to open! We need afresh to see the immeasurable possibilities of life in the Spirit, to realise that Christ is more than the prince of Egypt sending donkey carts of provision to his father — He is the Lord of the universe, able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine when we allow his power to work within us (Ephesians 3:16-21).

It’s time to move out of Hebron — and time to hand your plate to Jesus, the generous author of salvation!



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